John Francis McReady (born January 17, 1976), better known by his ring names Dionysus or John Dionysus, is a former professional wrestler known primary for his accomplishments in Action Packed Wrestling (APW), where he was a one-time former Xtreme Championship on APW's 'Overdrive' brand, and in Championship Wrestling Council (CWC) interfed events where he was a 2012 Ascension Tournament quarter-finalist and a former one-time CWC South American Champion.
Early life and pre-wrestling career
Born and raised in Boston, MA John McReady graduated high school in 1994 and quickly joined the U.S. Army, serving a tour of duty in the Balkans War that raged between ethnic Slavs in Eastern Europe between 1991 and 1995. There is no detailed account of McReady's life between the time of his medical discharge from the U.S. Army in 1997 and the beginning of his career as a professional wrestler in 2001.
McReady officially changed his surname to Dionysus in 2002, the name he came to be known as early in his wrestling career.
Professional Wrestling Career
Life as an independent wrestler
McReady was introduced to wrestling in 2001 through Vern Wheeler, an independent promoter whose events McReady occasionally worked as a security guard. Given a trial-out McReady impressed Wheeler and began to work as a jobber for the more established wrestlers in Wheeler's various small-time promotions.
After some time spent training and having gained some in-ring experience McReady was pushed and billed as 'John Dionysus' a moody and recalcitrant loner whose speciality was the emotionally detached beatings handed out to smaller wrestlers on the bill. In embracing this gimmick, as well as trying to cut ties with his past, McReady changed his legal surname to Dionysus, by which he is legally known to this day.
Dionysus worked for Wheeler, on and off, for nearly eight years, enjoying periods of relative success when sober, but the relationship between the two was strained by Dionysus' alcoholism and fractured psychological state.
In 2009 Wheeler and Dionysus severed ties and the latter quickly slipped out of the independent wrestling scene.
Source: The Vern Wheeler Wrestling Agency.
Return to professional wrestling
Dionysus returned to wrestling in 2011 seemingly clean and physically in better than shape than ever before. He was once again being promoted by Wheeler, but since Wheeler was no longer running any wrestling promotions he acted as a manager and consultant for Dionysus. Signed by the ailing World Wrestling Federation (WWA) in the summer of 2011, began his latest and probably final attempt at a comeback.
World Wrestling Alliance
A protracted management takeover of the struggling WWA promotion meant that Dionysus would have to wait until October for his WWA television debut. Under the management of Andy Seeley a tournament was organised to relaunch WWA and determine a new World Heavyweight Champion following the departure of previous Champion Jaymez Watkins with the previous management team.
Dionysus' debut came on the October 10th edition of Monday Night Meltdown and, having received a bye through the first round, Dionysus defeated WWA legend Copeland to progress. When the show had reached its conclusion a main event was announced for the following week's show: a triple threat match for the WWA Heavyweight Championship between John Dionysus, ex-WWA Champion Eddie Van Dorn, and the pre-tournament favourite American Freebear.
As the pre-tournament favourite American Freebear was expected emerge as the Champion on the October 17th edition of Meltdown. In an exciting finale both Dionysus and Freebear appeared to pin Eddie Van Dorn, who was eliminated, leaving Dionysus and Freebear to fight for the title. Soon after the lights went out and when they came back on revealed the unconscious and bloodied figures of John Dionysus and American Freebear.
A climax would be reached the following week on the October 24th edition of Meltdown, when John Dionysus pinned American Freebear to become the new WWA Heavyweight Champion. It completed a remarkable rise from nobody to World Champion in just three matches and over a period of three weeks.
However, Dionysus would not have the opportunity to celebrate his success or defend his title because no further editions of Meltdown were broadcast and in early November WWA closed under mysterious circumstances for an indefinite period of time. It was announced at the time that Dionysus would remain WWA Heavyweight Champion until further notice.
Action Packed Wrestling
Dionysus officially signed to Action Packed Wrestling (APW) on January 6, 2012, although a series of promos late in 2011 preceded his arrival. Dionysus began his APW career on the roster of the company's weekly Thursday night show Overdrive.
His career in APW began with a three-match series against fellow newcomer Donovan Caine. The decisive rubber took place at APW's Survive & Conquer pay-per-view on January 29 and ended with Dionysus pinning Caine to clinch the series 2-1. It was this win that would launch Dionysus onto greater success in APW.
Xtreme Title reign
On the February 9th edition of Overdrive Dionysus competed in a four-way Ultimate-X match for the recently vacated Xtreme Title. In a gruelling match which included Zachary Rodell, Yarmouth, and former APW Tag Team Champion Warren Peace, Dionysus captured the belt to become the new Xtreme Champion.
Soon after Michael Harris, a recent edition to the roster, made clear his desire for a shot at the Xtreme Title with a series of attacks on Dionysus in the ring and backstage. Eventually a title defense against Harris was announced for APW's Rasslemania VIII. In the meantime Dionysus was involved a number of matches with Overdrive Champion Terry Marvin and the #1 contender for that title, Keaton Saint. In one match Dionysus teamed with Saint to take on Marvin and Harris (Dionysus picking up the pinfall win over Harris), and Dionysus wrestled twice in singles matches against Marvin (one win, one loss) - a early precursor, to many, for a potential future rivalry.
At Rasslemania VIII defended his title against Harris and, despite taking a severe beating for much of the match, Dionysus succeeded in pinning Harris and retaining the title. Despite not being an expert-hardcore wrestler Dionysus had proven his determination to defend the title and restore honour and prestige to a Championship that had been in decline.
The Dionysus-Harris rivalry did not end there however. Soon after Rasslemania Harris defeated Chris Hart to become the #1 contender for the Xtreme Championship at the forthcoming Mayhem pay-per-view. The intensity of the feud would increase as Harris sought ever more diabolical means to ensure Dionysus would not be able to defend his title, and therefore urge APW's owner, President Jeff, to have Dionysus' reign forfeited.
This saga came to a head at Mayhem where Dionysus defeated Harris in a Last Man Standing match to retain the Xtreme Championship - a match that drew a huge amount of plaudits from fans, critics, and peers alike.
Test For The Best 2012
In June Dionysus entered APW's Test For The Best tournament, the winner get a shot at a champion of choice on their brand. Following his recent run of form Dionysus was considered by many a genuine contender for the throne, but given that APW's President Jeff declared early on the 2012 tournament was 'the most stacked we've ever seen' it wasn't going to be easy.
Dionysus made steady progress through the qualifying rounds by defeating Nick Watson and Delikado in separate matches to progress to the final rounds at the Test For The Best pay-per-view. In his quarter-final match Dionysus was booked in a triple threat match against Keaton Saint and Steve Stryker. In exciting back and forth match that saw each man claim numerous near falls, it was Saint who advanced by pinning Dionysus following a second Paragon Backbreaker, thereby ending Dionysus' participation in the event.
Loss of Xtreme Championship and injury
Eleven days after his loss at Test For The Best Dionysus issued an open challenge on Overdrive to the APW roster to challenge for the Xtreme Championship; the challenge was answered by Meltdown megastar "The Hitman" Steve Stryker. In an incredibly violent match, Stryker eventually scored the victory by pinfall after twice putting Dionysus through tables, bringing to an end Dionysus' five-month reign as Xtreme Champion.
On the next broadcast of Overdrive Dionysus was called to commentate on Steve Stryker's match with Mark Mania. During the match Stryker brutally assaulted Dionysus to such an extent that the former Xtreme Champion was stretchered out of the arena. It was later reported by APW that Dionysus had sustained multiple injuries including a slipped disk, two broken ribs, and muscle damage, and that he would undertake an indefinite leave of absence.
Return to APW television
Dionysus returned to TV on the September 13th edition of Overdrive in a segment with Keaton Saint. During this Dionysus communicated to Saint he would be back within a few weeks and expressed regret that Steve Stryker had since lost the Xtreme Championship and parted ways with APW. One week later Dionysus also visited then Xtreme Champion Evan Envi to deliver an implicit warning that he had not gone away. Dionysus' official return to match action came on the September 27th edition of Overdrive when he faced his old adversary Michael Harris in a singles match.
Evan Envi feud and retirement
In early autumn of 2012 Dionysus began to play the role unrequited mentor to Evan Envi, one of APW's rising stars and a former Xtreme Champion. Dionysus told Envi he could be one of the best, if only he could learn to understand what it really means to be an APW megastar. Envi's response was to challenge Dionysus to a match at APW's Christmas Chaos PPV in December in order to prove he was already better than the veteran.
The match at Christmas Chaos ended with Evan Envi picking up the victory following a low blow. The aftermath saw Dionysus trying to secure a re-match in order to earn personal absolution and give Envi the opportunity to redeem himself. At first Envi was reluctant, telling Dionysus he had nothing to prove and that it was his destiny to win the 2013 Survive & Conquer match and become APW's first ever 'Megamegastar'.
Envi's agreement was ensured when Dionysus offered to put his career on the line if Envi would face him again. At APW's Survive & Conquer PPV, Dionysus and Envi fought in a no disqualification match. After a 25 minute war of attrition Envi managed to secure a pinfall victory over Dionysus, consolidating his status as APW's #1 up and coming star, and bringing the curtain down on Dionysus' career.
After the match Dionysus would say goodbye in a typically humble manner, simply thanking the APW fans for saving his life and making a gracious bow to their emotional farewell.
Championship Wrestling Council
After missing out on APW's Survive & Conquer match at the Survive & Conquer pay-per-view Vern Wheeler entered Dionysus into the interfed Ascension Tournament held by Championship Wrestling Council (CWC). Urged on by his agent Vern Wheeler, Dionysus would go onto ensure his participation in Ascension would be his break-out moment.
On route to the quarter-finals Dionysus saw off the challenge of the likes of William Wallace (WARPED), Gage Gannon (UWF), Autumn Winterfall (NEW) and Outkast (NEW). In the quarter-final match Dionysus was drawn to face one of the pre-tournament favourites, then APW Undisputed Champion Kurt Noble. In a hard fought battle Dionysus came up short and lost to Noble, although it took two Noble Neckbreakers to keep Dionysus down for the three count.
Dionysus' impact was such that he would be granted a shot at the vacant CWC North American Championship at the company's Ascension Finale pay-per-view. Facing five other wrestlers in a six-pack challenge, including his fellow APW Megastar C.J. Gates, Dionysus came out victorious by pinning Jonny Cedrone to become the Champion and seal his first major success in CWC.
High Stakes 2012
Dionysus entered the High Stakes battle royale in hope of earning an automatic place in the quarter-finals of the much vaunted Extreme Tournament. The list of wrestlers competing in this match had it billed as one of the biggest and most important over the top rope matches in history. Ultimately it would prove not to be Dionysus' night, and despite entering at #27 his impact was minor as he was quickly eliminated (#19 in the match).
It was expected that Dionysus would compete in the Extreme Tournament later in the year, but due to other commitments he declined the opportunity.
World Wrestling Alliance
Relaunch and return
On January 31, 2012 it was announced that WWA would relaunch under new ownership. After some negotiation John Dionysus agreed to return to the company, although it was revealed his Heavyweight Championship success under the 'Seeley Splinter Group' would not be officially recognised.
Nevertheless, Dionysus returned with a determination to prove he was the elite wrestler in the company. As WWA relaunched with its new weekly show Evolution! Live!, Dionysus opened with victories over newcomers Naham Ali Kabir and Agent ORANGE, and was rumoured to have impressed the management so much that he was a shoe-in for #1 contendership.
However, WWA soon found itself in troubled waters when the financiers of the relaunch pulled out, leaving WWA without much to sail with. Soon after the indefinite closure of WWA was announced, and with that Dionysus announced his business with the company closed.
WWA returned yet again under new leadership in the early summer of 2012, this time under the management of Dominic Whitfield.
Once again Dionysus agreed to return to the company and help re-establish its name in the business. Whitfield announced that he would respect Dionysus title success from the previous fall, but that he would have to prove his inclusion in the World Title picture in a match with WWA legend, Copeland. Dionysus won this match and afterwards was awarded a title belt that Whitfield described as the 'old WWA Heavyweight Championship', the one Dionysus had won previously. Whitfield went on to announce that Dionysus would be one 'WWA Champion' in the existing product, while the winner of the 'Best of The Best' tournament would also be a 'WWA Champion'. Whitfield explained that the resolution would come at the company's first pay-per-view of the 'ReBirth' era, LEGACY, with the winner walking out as the 'Undisputed WWA Heavyweight Champion of the World'.
The 'Best of the Best' tournament was won by Eddie Van Dorn (who defeated R.J. Stone in the final, in which Dionysus made his presence known by attacking R.J. Stone); the two would go on to headline LEGACY to determine the true first champion of the 'ReBirth' era.
The match at ReBirth would be remembered not just as the final WWA event, but for the fitting tribute the main event offered. After an epic 40+ minute battle, Dionysus pinned Eddie Van Dorn to be crowned the first and last ever Undisputed WWA Heavyweight Champion of the World.
- Finishing Moves
- Midas Touch (Psycho Driver III)
- Signature Moves
- De Profundis (Over the shoulder arm trap side suplex)
- "The Balls" (Spinebuster followed by mounted punches)
- Cerebral Bore (Reverse half nelson facelock into a reverse swinging neckbreaker)
- Corner punching combination (usually several body blows followed by a stiff uppercut or right hook)
- Knee smash facebreaker
- Muay Thai-style lifting knee to the face/ribs
- Entrance Music
- 'Pride' by Sevendust (APW)
- 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' by Metallica (APW, CWC)
- 'Marche Slave' by Tchaikovsky (WWA)
Championships and accomplishments
- Notable Feuds
- Michael Harris (APW)
- Evan Envi (APW)
- Action Packed Wrestling
- 1x Xtreme Champion
- Championship Wrestling Council
- 1x South American Champion
- World Wrestling Alliance
- 2x World Heavyweight Champion
- CWC Ascension Tournament Quarter-finalist (2012)
- The Experts High Stakes Battle Royale Participant (2012)
- APW Test For The Best Quarter-finalist (2012)